Here’s a Book to Box Office I’m not quite sure what to do with. I’ve decided to combine my review of the book and film here.
I realize this isn’t the only source you can get opinions about this highly controversial series by E.L James, but I’ll be damned if I don’t make my peace along with the rest.
It wasn’t that I was never interested in reading the book after it hit the best-seller list, it just wasn’t the science-fiction I was used to and therefore missed my opportunity to form an opinion before the hype of the novel became so notorious. That said, these are all of my original thoughts while reading the book and watching the film, despite what has been written about them online.
The first thing I realized was that I really hated Kate, and I kind of hated Ana for putting up with her. Why were there two extremes of terrible role models in this book? The only other woman that takes presence is Ana’s mother and she’s just a hopeless romantic who chooses to nurse husband number 4’s wounds rather than attend her daughter’s graduation ceremony. Are we afraid of having strong, female protagonists? I understand this was fan-fiction and Ana is just another version of Bella Swan, but at some point someone has to stand up for this misinterpretation of women.
Kate probably could have been a great character. She’s strong-willed, confident, a fighter. But she was mostly represented as a bitch who makes Ana do her bidding and who questions Ana’s relationship without actually trying to offer advice besides “be careful”. Do something Kate!! She’s the closest one to Ana, yet seems so distant. Now that I think of it, this book could be re-written without her and I’m not sure it would really make a difference.
And Ana, well, she’s all kinds of messed up. Honey, it is NOT okay to let a man control you if it’s not what you want. Sure, I don’t argue exploring one’s sexuality within a defined relationship and with a trusted partner, but this was so far from that. Ana’s inner dialogue constantly let the reader know, that while she was thrilled to have the attention and to feel him there, she wasn’t sure it was what she wanted. Even Christian Grey was aware that she wasn’t totally comfortable with his behavior.
And Grey, well he has issues, a bad past or whatever. This is not an excuse to take a woman in bed or elsewhere when she hasn’t given full consent. She was attracted to him, obviously he’s attractive. And the things he did to her felt good. okay. This doesn’t make them right. Not to mention Christian’s unnerving stalker qualities. Why does no one question these things? Why doesn’t Ana?
Essentially, while reading this book I had a difficult time getting over the disturbing nature of each character. The sex scenes weren’t all together bad, but how the story led into these scenes simply made me angry. I was engaged with the development of Christian for a small portion of the book. He seemed to be developing as something more than the handsome and rich gentleman every woman already fantasizes about. I guess his past misery will stay a mystery. In the meantime, just know that he’s 1. really hot 2. filthy rich 3. a good guy at heart. He really is boring isn’t he?
I don’t mean to bash this book. With all of the negative reviews out there, a secret part of me wanted to prove to everyone that this was a revolutionary piece of literature. I’m glad a first time novelist was successful, I’m glad fan fiction got a nod, I’m glad that kinky sex was unabashedly described in this top-seller book. Only, I’m being a little extra harsh here because this book is in such a great place to bring exciting change to the literary industry. Instead, it followed the unimpressive characters – women who are only admired if they are weaker than men and men who are sexy, dangerous, and (honestly!) just misunderstood.
I give Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James 2 Stars
Regardless of my disposition on the book, I went to see the film with an open mind. Again, this film is in a unique position to cater to female sexual fantasies when most film caters to men and their fantasies. Also, sexual awareness and acceptance of new and different sexual behaviors is another viral topic among millennials. The film was bound to break some kind of record, and hopefully make a solid point to film companies and moviegoers.
It might be because I watched the movie after a ten-hour shift, but I couldn’t help but yawn. It was still boring, but thankfully it didn’t anger me the way the book did. It truly made a difference cutting out all of Anastasia’s “inner goddess” nonsense. With a female lead, I was pleased that the script or Dakota Johnson’s acting or a combination of both allowed Ana’s character some more depth than the book. She started out the squeaky, shy girl as expected, but the relationship really developed her blooming ferocity. Her relationship with Christian really drove her to decide what she wanted and Dakota Johnson really understood this. Slight changes in her behavior meant Ana was defining herself as a woman and wasn’t going to simply accept all kinds of abuse. Whereas in the novel, Ana’s inner voice would tell herself “I already knew I would.” There was more maturity without this kind of dialogue.
The sex scenes were mild. While there was a lot of female nudity, most scenes were short. It’s a good thing too because honestly there was no passion, no chemistry, absolutely no desire in these scenes. It was almost painful to watch. Perhaps the true pain was Christian’s (Jamie Dornan) stale personality, if he even had one. Dornan made it almost impossible for there to be any hint at chemistry between the two. He seemed far removed from the character and solely focused on the stone-like personality that Grey often hid behind.
I give Fifty Shades of Grey directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan a 2.5 Stars
All in all, I agree with many critics of both the book and film. The series by E.L James pushes exciting, new boundaries. The actual story, its writing and plot, don’t quite deliver any exemplary points. Nothing that says, “look here, look at this one important thing.” Mostly there is a continuing tragedy in the submissiveness of women and the social conflict of men overpowering women and getting away with it. The film takes some positive strides with a little rebellion in Ana’s character, but in the end of it all there’s not much to take away from the book or the movie
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